Mindthecloud.net is starting series of articles about MS Dynamics CRM and Azure. The main idea is to popularize some of the Azure architectural patters that can be utilized with MS Dynamics CRM. You might ask why, well …I do believe that Azure is a complimentary part of some XRM based solutions, we can easy leverage some cloud capabilities that will allow us/you to build more effective, scalable, flexible with fresh enthusiastic approach (but with the business value) systems. Series of articles will focus primarily on helping the users/partners/architects/developers understand how to use Windows Azure + MS Dynamics CRM 2011. I don’t want to say that Azure is THE ONLY available solution for some of the scenarios I rather just show you where Azure services are useful, and shows how you can use them in your own solutions.
Every article will have business scenario, proposed solution, pros and cons, I thought about sample “trivial” implementation but that depends if there will be some interests. Let’s start then, I’m not going to write any introduction to Azure there is a lot of books/msdn articles which talk in details about every available Windows Azure service, just go to Azure Developer Center and find a lot of videos guides etc. http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/overview/.
Company XYZ is using MS Dynamics CRM 2011 as system for creating orders. Dynamics CRM is hosted online (for that particular scenario it doesn’t matter where Dynamics CRM is hosted). Company XYZ has got business partner which fulfils their orders two branches in two different locations. Partner has business application which has to be hosted on premise in one of the locations where the stock is kept. Business decided that every 2 hours all orders created should be transferred to business partner, so we need secure reliable communication between CRM and this on-prem app without giving access to MS CRM for partner.
The proposed solution is one of many varieties which can be used to solve that business challenge. I’d like to use/utilize on of the fantastic capabilities which are offered by out of the box Windows Azure Integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. MS Dynamics CRM 2011 has been integrated with the Windows Azure platform by coupling the Microsoft Dynamics CRM event execution pipeline to the Windows Azure Service Bus so effectively during save/update operation we can send processed information to Azure Service Bus. MS CRM 2011 can send those messages to service bus using 4 different contracts: queued, one-way contract, two-way contract, or a REST contract if you want detailed information please have a look here http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg334766.aspx . A queued contract in our case is probably the most interesting one, is using Service Bus Queues. Lets’ have a look at diagram
What that kind of approach gives us.
Proposed architecture is based on “brokered” messaging “pattern”. The core components of the Service Bus brokered messaging infrastructure are queues, topics, and subscriptions, for now we’re going to concentrate just at queues. MS CRM sends the processed entity (order) directly to prepared queue. That queue acts as a buffer and can store orders for certain period of time called default message time to live. (Can be set on message or if not queue settings apply) moreover partner will connect just to queue not directly to our CRM application. Azure Service Bus Queues are using ACS claims and can utilize roles with ACS roles, every request must be authenticated so our communication is secure. Well we met all business requirements and we achieved even more. Let’s look at benefits summary.
1) Separation of concerns/decoupling. Partner doesn’t have to connect directly to our MS CRM app.
2) Secure and reliable cross-boundary communication.
3) Load-leveling buffer, this comes extra, partner receiver application doesn’t have to be developed as super scalable app just in case we overstressed it by sending huge amount of orders , queue acts as an buffer prevents overload.
4) We didn’t touch that subject but we also we have load balancing.
5) From that pub/sub is just “behind the corner” but that will be subject of next article.
p.s Credits to Marco Amoedo for review of that post.
All comments and suggestions are very welcome, if someone is interested in sample implementation I can prepare step-by-step tutorial.